The Cardinal's Sin - chapter 37 - Betrayal

Betrayal

Jeanne knew what she was heading into, now. She had a journey on which to decide which way to go. Pull out, and be exposed as a fraudster, and fallen woman, which might catch the Cardinal, but would more likely, brand her as a wicked liar, and him as a victim. Or press on regardless of cost and damage to others.

She knew the outcome for her, would likely be poor in any event. The question was, could she bring down the Cardinal, and would others be caught with her? Did it matter? What she was planning was a betrayal, but compared with the betrayal visited on her sister, and avenging that, it was nothing. Revenge, was now all that mattered to her.

It was late when her carriage entered the grounds at Versailles. The Queen, Rochefort, and the Gardes Français Colonel, all were waiting for her. As before, the corridors had been cleared of staff and courtiers, and Jeanne made her way through silent halls, a ghost in a haunted house.

The gentlemen stood, as she entered. Rochefort even held a chair for her, perhaps they interpreted her exhaustion, as distress.

“You have news for us, madame?” the Queen asked.

She nodded. “We saw his Eminence this evening, he is confirmed in his desire, to bestow a gift upon your Majesty.”

The two officers exchanged a look, as though this confirmed their view of how matters would proceed.

“And, when am I to receive this gift?”

“He has suggested Pentecost Sunday, madame. He is to concelebrate mass for the court. Afterward, he thought you could meet, he would then give you the gift.”

“Might I know what is in store, or is that to be a surprise?”

“The Du Barry necklace, madame.”

For the first time, since she had intervened in the plot, the Queen coloured, looking less than composed. She turned to each of the officers, her hand tapping on the table beside her provided a sharp accompaniment.

“He knows my feelings, about that item. He knows, because he was there the last time I rejected it.”

Jeanne looked exasperated.

“He believes, madame, that underneath, you truly desire it. That your rejection was a necessary, public pose. I understand, the makers of the necklace, may have painted a rosier picture of your views, in an effort to assuage their embarrassment, on the night of your rejection.”

“I was warned, by the Comte and the Colonel, here, that it might well be the objective of this little scheme. Your husband, it seems, has a relationship with the necklace. Did you know of this?”

Jeanne looked shocked, “Madame, I had not known of the necklace, before the Cardinal suggested, and described it to me. I do not think my husband has any designs on it, truly.”

Rochefort leaned forward, “Madame, I believe he stopped the Jeweller’s coach one evening on the road to Paris, in an attempt to make away with the necklace. He was forestalled by my intervention, and a subterfuge on the part of monsieur Bassenge.”

“Madame, I have not heard of this before.” Jeanne was adamant.

“I believe you madame, it is hardly a story to captivate the heart of a young woman, is it?” the Queen said.

“Neither was that the first time, I had come across monsieur la Motte, in connection with the necklace.” Rochefort continued. Jeanne coloured at the dropping of her husband’s title, but said nothing, “He was caught, in the atelier of Boehmer and Bassenge, earlier that same year when he held up the coach. He got away that time, because of some, cock and bull story, about a young lad, and having, he himself, stopped a robbery.”

“Was anything missing, from the stock?” Jeanne asked, all concern.

“No madame. Your husband is many things, but he is not a fool.” Rochefort answered.

The Queen tapped the table, “Gentlemen, we have a plan to deal with this?”

“Madame, we do.” The colonel agreed. Leaning across the table he pulled out a plan of the church, and associated apartments. He straightened the page and smoothed its surface, aware he was now centre stage.

“This is the church. Here, the vestry. The King, and you madame, with your family, the court following, will enter as usual from here. I would like to place a small troop in this room, three chambers away. Also, after the Cardinal has entered the church, to have six men occupy the vestry. In this way, there will be no way out of the the area.”

“What of the danger of discovery?” The Queen asked.

“We will lock the doors.”

The Queen looked shocked. “Does that not bring up the chance, people will end up locked inside?”

“Madame, the chamberlain will be with us, he will have the key. In any case there are several keys, so no danger of a loss or a mistake.” He turned to Jeanne, “Where will the Cardinal receive the necklace, madame?”

“I thought, in Paris.”

“That must not be. Get him, to insist they bring it to Versailles, and exchange it here, in this way la Motte and his confederates, will be here, as well.”

Jeanne agreed.

“If they exchange in the Vestry, the troop entering it will scoop them up.”

“Will you have men outside?” The Queen asked.

“No need madame, and it risks giving away our plan. We will lock the chapel gate giving any fugitives limited scope to escape.” And she smiled. She turned to Jeanne.

“You see your part in this?”

“I do, madame.”

“If all goes to plan, you will not be charged. An innocent, caught up in a scandalous affair.”

“And the Cardinal?”

“ ‘And the Cardinal, madame’, Jeanne.”

“Yes madame.”

“The cardinal, will be exposed for what he is, and possibly prosecuted for treason.”

“Treason?” Jeanne's eyes widened.

“Trying to seduce the Queen, treason, no?” she said to Jeanne.

“Madame, I wish to see the Cardinal, actually being arrested.”

The Queen and the officers exchanged looks, and the Queen agreed with a smile, as though something had been confirmed.

“You may, Jeanne.”

“Thank you, madame.”

Rochefort leaned in again, “If you seat yourself in the nave, with the officers, you will see as much as any.”

“I cannot stay in the Vestry? So I will have to enter through the usual door.”

“Indeed.” Rochefort agreed.

“If the gate is locked, how will I get from one to the other?”

“Why would you be on that side, madame?”

“The Cardinal, will want the surety of my presence, monsieur.”

He thought about that, and the colonel suggested, “We could lock the passageway between these apartment, and the front of the building, after you’ve passed”

“So I can walk through here, and move to the front?”

“Yes, In fact, you will arrive after the court has moved inside. You can signal to the men, in the main room, that all is ready.”

“How?”

“A quick knock on the door, should suffice.”

She smiled, “I think I understand. Alright.”

“You have no concern about your husband’s arrest?” The Queen asked.

“You should have none madame, he is a liar and a scoundrel.” Rochefort said.

“I have also discovered, he is an adulterer, madame. So, no, no concerns, madame.”

The Queen tilted her head in question.

“The maidens of Arras, where his regiment is stationed, madame.” Jeanne answered.

Rochefort sat back and relaxed, “Good, we’ve got him.”

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